Perspectives of Three Generational Cohorts – Barcelona
Introduction to Paper
“It now seems obvious that the recent poor economy coupled with the often spectacular failures in leadership, many involving ethics, have left us searching for new leadership solutions. Consequently, there has been an increase in interest among scholars and practitioners in more values-based leadership approaches and theories where employees are treated as more than just a means to an end (Bass, 1990). Peter Ducker pointed out as far back as 1959 that one of the great challenges management will face in the 21st century is finding the best approach to lead, inspire, motivate, and continually challenge what he called “knowledge workers” (Drucker, 1999). Furthermore, many scholars, consultants, and commentators propose leaders must adjust their leadership style for an increasingly diverse (gender, age, ethnicity, generation) workforce (Twenge, Campbell, Hoffman, & Lance, 2010). Generational diversity is a result of the modern workforce being comprised primarily of three cohorts: Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1981), and Generation Y (1982-2002). The similarities and differences between generational cohort characteristics are subject to intense investigation by consumer research organizations (Schewe & Meredith, 2004), nursing (Swearingen & Liberman, 2004), business (Papenhausen, 2006), and academia (Smola & Sutton, 2002). In particular, the leadership needs and wants of the different generational cohorts are of interest as generationally-based differences in approaching life hint at generational differences with respect to leadership needs (Arsenault, 2004; Twenge et al., 2010). Servant leadership, as an individual-focused and highly ethical approach, has the potential to appeal to followers from all three cohorts. Servant leaders focus on meeting follower needs first, and organizational needs are met as an outcome of satisfied followers being more productive, innovative, and loyal (Liden, Wayne, Zhao, & Henderson, 2008; van Dierendonck, 2011). What is needed is a leadership approach that has the potential for leaders to connect with followers at a deeper level and repair the often broken leader-follower relationships, as well as develop leader-follower relationships based on respect and loyalty with a high level of trust and fairness.”
This paper presents a qualitative analysis of 25 interviews with followers who work for servant leaders based on their servant leadership survey scores of 4.0 or higher. Interviews are divided between three generational cohorts – Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. This quasi-deductive qualitative study explores the perceptions of three generational cohorts of followers of servant leaders to provide new insights into servant leadership. The result is a framework composed of individual leader characteristics, activities, behaviors, and follower responses and results that appeal to three generational cohorts. | Download
Zimmerer, T. E., & Latham, J. R. (2015, October 16). Exploring What it Is Like to Work for a Servant Leader: Perspectives of Three Generational Cohorts. Paper presented at the 17th Annual Global Conference, International Leadership Association, Barcelona, Spain.
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